Judge dismisses some Jane Doe claims against BU, lets others stand

(Baylor University photo/file)
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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) In a 27-page ruling Tuesday U.S. District Judge Robert Pittman dismissed some of the 10 Jane Doe claims against Baylor University, but let others stand.

Baylor issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon in which it said the school "is encouraged by today's ruling."

"The court’s decision was based entirely on the plaintiffs’ pleadings and assumed that every claim they presented was accurate. The court summarily rejected every claim under state law as well as dismissed some of the Title IX allegations related to four of the plaintiffs," the university said.

Waco attorney Jim Dunnam, who represents the 10 women, called the ruling “very positive for our clients.”

“It’s a big leap forward for them,” he said.

“I think this decision is very meaningful” for all Baylor women, he said.

All 10 of the Jane Does allege that they were sexually assaulted while students at Baylor and that the school did nothing or almost nothing in response to the reports when they sought the school’s assistance and protection.

Pittman let stand what the ruling describes as the heightened-risk claims of the 10 Jane Does, who allege that “Baylor’s discriminatory practices in handling reports of sexual assault—discouraging victims from reporting their assaults and failing to investigate their claims or punish their assailants—constituted a policy of intentional discrimination that substantially increased the plaintiffs’ risks of being sexually assaulted.”

Pittman dismissed what he described as post-reporting claims by four Jane Doe plaintiffs who argued they reported the sexual assaults and that Baylor’s “deliberately indifferent response to each of their reports deprived them of educational opportunities and benefits provided by the school” because the claims fell outside of the statute of limitations.

Jane Doe 2 was sexually assaulted in September 2004, Jane Doe 5 in November 2005, Jane Doe 6 in 2007 or 2008 and Jane Doe 7 in May 2009.

Pittman also dismissed state-law claims by the 10 Jane Does that Baylor breached numerous duties by, among other things, filing to protect them from the criminal acts of others and failing to train employees on how properly to handle reports of sexual assault.

Pittman's ruling includes an order that lifts a stay on discovery, clearing the way for the suits to move forward.

“The judge, in allowing all 10 cases to go forward, said young women have until next spring (2018) to file a claim if they fall into the ‘heightened risk’ category,” Dunnam said.

Dunnam said the next step is for Baylor to file an answer to the claims in the lawsuit he filed.

He said he expects filings in the case to begin very soon, perhaps this week.

The university said in its statement that it "intends to continue to defend itself against those allegations that have not yet been dismissed. We will now have the opportunity to conduct discovery and ultimately present evidence on those remaining counts."